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Blocking the Road to Masan

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Combat Photos

(Back to Appleman: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu)
There is still one absolute weapon ... the only weapon capable of operatingwith complete effectiveness-of dominating every inch of terrain where humanbeings live and fight, and of doing it under all conditions of light anddarkness, heat and cold, desert and forest, mountain and plain. That weaponis man himself.

The impending loss of Chinju had caused Eighth Army to send its reserveregiment posthaste to the southwest. This was Colonel Michaelis' 27th Infantry,25th Division, which had been in army reserve only one day at Waegwan afterfalling back through the 1st Cavalry Division above Kumch'on. During thenight of 30-31 July, Eighth Army ordered Michaelis to report to GeneralChurch at Changnyong, where the 24th Division command post had moved fromHyopch'on. Colonel Michaelis left immediately with Capt. Earl W. Buchanan,his S-3, and instructed his executive officer, Maj. Arthur Farthing, tofollow with the regiment. [1]

Michaelis arrived at the 24th Division command post at Changnyong duringthe morning of 31 July and reported to Brig. Gen. Pearson Menoher, assistantdivision commander. General Church was absent. General Menoher decidedthat Michaelis should continue on, and arranged for him to meet GeneralChurch that night at Chung-ni, a little railroad and crossroads villagefour miles northeast of Masan. The regiment itself passed through Changnyongin the early afternoon and continued on toward Chinju. [2]

The Two Roads to Masan

That afternoon and evening as the 27th Infantry Regiment traveled south,the 19th Infantry sought a defense position between Chinju and Masan whereit could reassemble its forces and block the enemy's advance eastward fromChinju. Colonel Rhea's 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, with supporting artillery,was in the naturally strong position at the Chinju pass.

Four miles east of the Chinju pass was the little village of Much'on.There the road to Masan forked. The northern route arched in a semicirclethrough Chungam-ni and Komam-ni to enter Masan from the north. The southernroute curved in a similar semicircle through Kogan-ni and Chindong-ni toenter Masan from the south. A high mountain mass, Sobuk-san, lay enclosedin this oval area circumscribed by the two roads. (Map IV)

The evening of 31 July Colonel Moore established the 19th Infantry'scommand post one mile east of Much'on-ni on the northern road. About 2000,a military police courier arrived at his command post with a message fromGeneral Church summoning Moore to a meeting with him and Michaelis at Chung-ni.[3] Colonel Moore and his driver, guided by the courier, set out immediatelyand arrived at the appointed place before midnight. Church and Michaeliswere already in the little railroad station.

Colonel Moore gave a detailed account of the events of the day and thelocation of the 19th Infantry and attached troops. There is considerableconfusion as to just what orders General Church issued to Colonel Mooreand Colonel Michaelis at this meeting. Since they were verbal there hasbeen no way to check them in the records. It would appear that Moore wasto hold the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, in its blocking position westof the Much'on-ni road fork and Colonel Michaelis was to put the 27th Infantryin a reinforcing defensive position at the pass three miles west of Chungam-nion the northern road to Masan. [4]

After the meeting, Moore returned to his command post while Michaeliswaited for his regiment, which arrived about 0300 (1 August), tired andwet. Michaelis instructed it to continue on and dig in on the high groundbeyond Chungam-ni, fifteen miles westward.

Colonel Michaelis with a few staff officers left Chung-ni while it wasstill dark and drove to the Notch, a pass southwest of Chungam-ni, arrivingthere shortly after daybreak. Colonel Michaelis, Captain Buchanan, ColonelCheck, and Lt. Col. Gordon E. Murch were studying the ground there andplanning to occupy the position, when Capt. Elliott C. Cutler, Acting S-3,19th Infantry, arrived. He was reconnoitering the ground for defensivepositions and had selected four possible sites between the Much'on-ni crossroadsand the Notch. He told Michaelis the Notch was the best site and, whenhe left to return to his command post, he understood that Michaelis stillexpected to put the 27th Infantry into the Notch position. [6]

Moving Up From Chinju

The conversation with Cutler apparently convinced Michaelis that the18th Infantry was on the verge of another withdrawal which would uncoverthe Much'on-ni road fork. After Cutler departed, Michaelis remarked tohis battalion commanders, Check and Murch, "The 19th Infantry hasbeen overrun and won't be able to do much. They are beaten. I think I willgo back and cover the other road. I can't do much here." [6] Michaeliswent back a mile or so to the 13th Field Artillery Battalion command postwhich had just been established west of Chungam-ni. There he telephonedColonel Moore at the 19th Infantry command post.

In the conversation that followed, according to Michaelis, Moore toldhim the 19th Infantry could not hold the crossroads and would fall backto the Notch. Michaelis said it seemed to him imperative in that eventthat some force block the southern road into Masan, otherwise the NorthKoreans could move through Masan on Pusan and flank the entire Eighth Army.Michaelis proposed that the 19th Infantry endeavor to hold the northernroad at the Chungam-ni Notch and that he take the 27th Infantry back throughMasan to the vicinity of Chindong-ni to block the southern road to Masan.[7] Michaelis states that Moore concurred. Michaelis then tried, but failed,to establish communication with both the 24th Division and Eighth Armyto obtain approval of this plan.

His mind made up, however, Michaelis at once gave orders to turn the27th Regiment around and head for Chindong-ni. It was about noon. [8]

In Masan, Michaelis found the newly arrived advance command post ofthe 25th Division, and from it he tried to telephone General Church atthe 24th Division. Unable to get the division, he then tried to reach EighthArmy. Succeeding, he talked with Colonel Landrum, Chief of Staff, Eighth Army,and explained the situation. Landrum approved Michaelis' move to the southernroad in the vicinity of Chindong-ni, and instructed him to continue effortsto communicate with General Church. Later in the day, when General Walkerreturned to the army command post, Landrum informed him of his conversationwith Michaelis. Meanwhile during the day, the Eighth Army G-3 Section succeededin getting a message to General Church informing him of Colonel Michaelis'move and the new troop dispositions west of Masan. [9]

During the afternoon, the 27th Regiment arrived at Chindong-ni. Michaelishalted the troops there while he went forward a few miles with his battalioncommanders, Check and Murch, to an observation post where they conferredwith General Church, who had just arrived. In the discussion there, GeneralChurch ordered Colonel Michaelis to put one battalion on the hills at thelow pass where they were standing. Church decided that a reconnaissancein force should proceed westward the next morning to locate the enemy.Both the 27th Infantry and the 19th Infantry were to make this reconnaissanceand the two forces were to meet at the Much'on-ni road fork. Michaelistelephoned Colonel Moore and relayed General Church's order for a reconnaissancein force with all available tanks toward Chinju at 0600 the next morning,2 August. Moore did not favor making this attack; Michaelis did. [10]

Pursuant to General Church's instructions, Colonel Michaelis placedMurch's 2d Battalion on the high ground at Kogan-ni, where the conversationwith General Church had taken place, about seven miles west of Chindong-ni,with E Company in an advanced position astride the road three miles fartherwest just beyond Pongam-ni. To Colonel Check was given the task of makingthe reconnaissance attack the next morning with the 1st Battalion. Checkplaced the battalion in an assembly area back of the 2d Battalion for thenight. Colonel Michaelis established his command post in a schoolhouseunder a high bluff in Chindong-ni. [11]

On the northern road, as Captain Cutler discovered when he returnedto the 19th Infantry command post from his reconnaissance, Colonel Moorehad ordered the 1st Battalion to move to the Notch in one jump insteadof taking several successive delaying positions as Cutler had expected.Moore thought the one move would give the battalion more time to dig inagainst an expected enemy attack. [12]

The 1st Battalion left its positions at the Chinju pass and arrivedat a designated assembly area two miles southwest of the Notch about 1400.Colonel Rhea remained behind at the pass with an M20 armored car to protect the rear of the battalion. An hour after thebattalion had moved off eastward, an American jeep carrying two North Koreanscouts came up the hill from the west and stopped just short of the crest.Using small arms fire, Colonel Rhea's party killed the two enemy soldiersand recovered the jeep. Rhea's rear guard party then followed the battaliontoward the Notch. Below the Notch Rhea received orders to make a reconnaissanceof the high ground there. It took him about two hours to do this. Not untilabout 1700, after he had returned from this reconnaissance, did he receiveorders to place his battalion in the position. It was evening before the1st Battalion started to occupy the Notch position. [13]

The regimental plan called for the 1st Battalion to hold the Notch andthe high ground to the right (northwest), and the ROK troops, commandedby Colonel Min, the high ground to the left (southeast) of the Notch. [14]Colonel McGrail's battalion, which had withdrawn from Chinju by a routenorth of the Nam River, crossed to the south side near Uiryong and arrivedat the Notch ahead of the 1st Battalion. When the 1st Battalion arrived,the 2d withdrew to the northern base of the pass in regimental reserve.Late in the afternoon, the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry, also arrived atChungam-ni.

As the 19th and 27th Infantry Regiments made their preparations duringthe evening of 1 August for their reconnaissance the next morning, mostwelcome reinforcements arrived. They were the first medium tanks in Korea,if one excepts the three ill-fated Pershings at Chinju. About mid-July,Eighth Army activated the 8072d Medium Tank Battalion, which was to receivefifty-four old World War II medium tanks rebuilt in Japan. Detachment A(A Company) of the tank battalion, under the command of Capt. James H.Harvey, arrived at Pusan on 31 July. Railroad flatcars brought them toMasan the morning of 1 August. From there, Lt. Donald E. Barnard took thefirst platoon to the 19th Infantry position near Chungam-ni, and 1st Lt.Herman D. Norrell took the second platoon to the 27th Infantry at Chindong-ni.Both platoons entered action the next day. [15]

The Battle at the Notch

Colonel Moore selected Colonel Wilson's 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry,to make the reconnaissance westward from the Notch and issued his ordersfor it at 2000, 1 August. A platoon of five M4 medium tanks and four M8armored cars and a platoon of engineers were to accompany the battalion.[16] Moore had available at this time a total of about 2,335 men in the19th Infantry and attached 29th Infantry units, excluding the ROK soldiersunder Colonel Min. [17]

The tanks were to lead the column. They assembled in front of the 19thInfantry regimental command post in Chungam-ni at 0530 the next morning,2 August, and the rest of the column organized behind them. Groups of fiveinfantrymen from C Company mounted each of the tanks and armored cars.Next came the motorized battalion in twenty-two trucks and a number ofjeeps. The tanks led off from Chungam-ni at 0615 with the first good light.Half an hour later the head of the column passed through the 1st Battalion,19th Infantry, defensive position at the Notch, its line of departure.

Excitement spread among the men at the Notch when enemy fire suddenlystruck and stopped the armored column just below their position. ColonelWilson at the time was well back in that part of the column still on thenortheast incline leading up to the Notch. Hearing heavy firing forward,he jumped from his jeep and hurried up the hill. Colonel Rhea ran up asWilson reached the crest, shouting, "You better be careful-that grounddown by the pond is enemy territory. My men were fighting with them whenyour tanks came by." [18] Colonel Wilson's motorized column in passingthrough the Notch had met head-on an enemy attack just starting againstthe 19th Infantry.

The tanks met enemy soldiers crawling up the ditch at the side of theroad, 100 yards below the crest of the pass. The tanks moved slowly ahead,firing their machine guns. Some of the enemy soldiers ran into the woodsalong both sides of the road. The lead tank, with its hatch open, had reacheda point about 400-500 yards down the incline when an enemy mortar shellstruck it, killing the crew. Fire from an enemy antitank gun hit a truckfarther back in the column and set it on fire. Three enemy heavy machineguns along the road 200 yards below the crest started firing on the columnas it ground to a halt. This machine gun fire almost annihilated the 1stPlatoon, C Company, as the men scrambled from the trucks. Twelve or fourteenvehicles had crossed over the pass and were on the southern slope whenthe enemy opened fire. [19]

When the American soldiers jumped off their vehicles and ran to theroadside ditches for protection, they found the enemy already there. Severaldesperate struggles took place. Some North Koreans in the ditches continuedto advance slowly uphill, pushing captured Americans, their hands tied,in front of them. This melee along the road resulted in about thirty Americancasualties.

Colonel Wilson witnessed this disastrous spectacle from a point justsouthwest of the Notch. Seeing that the column was effectively stopped,he placed B Company, 29th Infantry (62 men), in position with the 1st Battalion,19th Infantry. Colonel Wilson displayed great energy and exposed himselfconstantly in reorganizing scattered and intermingled units west of theNotch.

As soon as the enemy machine gun positions were located, recoillessrifles took them under fire and either destroyed them or caused the enemygunners to abandon them. But enemy fire in turn killed three of four crewmembers of the recoilless rifle on the west side of the Notch. The fourthmember, Sgt. Evert E. "Moose" Hoffman, stayed with the gun andfired at every available target throughout the day. He won a battlefieldcommission. Another courageous noncommissioned officer, MSgt. William Marchbanks,D Company, 29th Infantry, placed his two mortars in position at the edgeof the Notch and took under fire every burst of enemy fire he could locate.[20]

When the fight started, Colonel Moore came to the command post of the1st Battalion on the west side of the Notch and stayed there most of theday, directing the defense.

The battle soon spread from the road and flared up along the high groundon either side of the Notch. The night before, B Company, 19th Infantry,had started to climb the peak on the west side of the Notch but, tiredfrom the efforts of the past few days and the hard climb, it stopped shortof the crest. On the morning of 2 August, enemy troops came upon the menin their sleep. In a swift attack the North Koreans bayoneted the companycommander and several others and drove the rest off the hill. The confusionwest of the Notch was heightened about noon when three American fighterplanes mistakenly strafed and rocketed this company. [21]

On that (west) side of the Notch, men of the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry,and of the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry, became badly intermingled. Theenemy force that had driven B Company, 19th Infantry, from the high groundplaced cross fire from flank and rear on other units. In an effort to haltthis destructive fire, C Company, 29th Infantry, gradually worked its wayto a saddle short of the high ground. From there it attacked and drovethe enemy force from the heights. In the attack, twelve men of C Companywere killed; half of the casualties, in Colonel Wilson's opinion, werecaused by American fire from neighboring positions.

During the preceding night, plans for covering the left (east) flankof the Notch position had also miscarried. Colonel Min's troops were supposedto occupy that ground and tie in with the 19th Infantry near the Notch.Morning found them too far eastward, separated by a mile and a half fromthe 19th Infantry. Snipers infiltrated behind some American soldiers onthat side and killed five of them by shots through the back of the head.In the afternoon, enemy mortar fire on the east side also killed and woundedseveral men.

From his position west of the Notch, Colonel Moore saw men moving upthe valley eastward, following the railroad toward Chungam-ni. Thinkingthey were enemy troops he directed Captain Cutler, his S-3, to send partof the 2d Battalion to block them. This force, however, turned out to beColonel Min's ROK troops withdrawing because friend and foe alike had them under fire.

East of the Notch, gaps in the line produced much confusion. The 3dBattalion, 29th Infantry, had been committed next to Colonel Min's force,and B Company, 29th Infantry, also went there during the day to help holdthe high ground. Enemy troops tried to advance from the railroad tunnelin front of B Company, but a platoon of F Company, 19th Infantry, counterattackedand drove them back. [22]

The fighting along the road west of the Notch died down during the afternoon.The enemy apparently had moved off to the flanks in his favorite maneuver.At midafternoon a squad from A Company, 19th Infantry, went down the roadpast the knocked-out vehicles and killed a few enemy soldiers still nearthem. The men then set up a roadblock 100 yards beyond the tanks. Othergroups took out American wounded and recovered most of the vehicles. Therest of A Company swept the adjoining ridge forward of the pass for severalhundred yards. By evening, the enemy had withdrawn from close contact withthe 19th Infantry.

American casualties in the Notch battle numbered about ninety. NorthKorean losses are unknown. Nor is it known how large an enemy force wasengaged there. Estimates ranged among officers present from two companiesto a regiment. From information gained later concerning the location ofthe 6th Division, it appears that the enemy was at leastin battalion strength at the Notch on 2 August, and he may have had thegreater part of a regiment.

The day's events disclosed that from Chinju elements of the enemy 6thDivision had followed closely behind the withdrawing 19th Infantry,sending the bulk of its advance units up the northern road toward Masan.

Colonel Check's Reconnaissance in Force Toward Chinju

That same morning, 2 August, Colonel Check at 0400 led the 1st Battalion,27th Infantry, with A Battery of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion attached,westward from Chindong-ni on the southern leg of the two-pronged reconnaissance.At the head of the column a platoon of infantry rode four medium tanks(Shermans). Colonel Check's immediate objective was the road juncture atMuch'on-ni.

Check's column was unopposed at first. After traveling several miles,the tanks and the lead platoon forming the point caught an enemy platoonstill in their blankets along the road. When the startled North Koreansjumped up and started to run, tank machine guns and riflemen killed allbut two, and these they captured. [23] Soon, enemy opposition began todevelop, but it was mostly from snipers and scattered patrols.

At the Much'on-ni road fork about midafternoon, Check's column met andsurprised a number of enemy soldiers. The surprise was evident, as a columnof enemy supply trucks had just descended from the Chinju pass. Driverswere able to turn some of the vehicles around and escape, but the North Koreans abandoned about ten vehicles, rangingfrom jeeps to 2 1/2-ton trucks. These were loaded with uniforms, food,ammunition, medicine, and other supplies. Pilots of F-51 planes overheadreported later that the appearance of Check's column caused many othervehicles to turn around at the top of the pass and head toward Chinju.They made good targets for the planes. [24]

Enemy resistance now increased. Just beyond the road fork Check dismountedhis motorized battalion and sent the trucks back. He did not want to runthe risk of having them captured, and he believed his men could fight theirway out on foot if necessary. Only the mortar platoon and the artillerybattery retained their vehicles. Having no communication with the regiment,Colonel Check sent runners back to Colonel Michaelis, but none reachedtheir destination. Enemy forces had closed in behind Check and cut theroad.

Check's battalion, now afoot, advanced westward with the tanks in thelead. In the low hills at the foot of the Chinju pass, a long hard fightwith the enemy began. The North Koreans held the pass in force. Sniperfire from the right (north) caused the infantry on the tanks to dismountand take cover behind them. Suddenly, Lieutenant Norell, tank platoon leaderin the third tank, saw enemy fire hit the tank ahead of him. He could seethat it was coming from three antitank guns about five yards off the roadto the right. His own tank then received three hits almost immediatelyand started to burn. In leaving his tank, Lieutenant Norrell received machinegun and shrapnel wounds. [25] This quick burst of enemy antitank fire killedthe gunner in the second tank and wounded seven other enlisted tank crewmembers. Very quickly, however, the artillery battery took the antitankguns under fire and silenced them. The infantry then captured the pieces.There were many enemy dead in this vicinity, and others feigning death.Check walked over to the guns and noted that they were 76-mm. [26]

Colonel Check called for volunteers to form crews for the two partlydisabled but still operable tanks. Men who had operated bulldozers volunteeredto drive the tanks. They received quick instruction from the drivers ofthe two undamaged tanks. Check used riflemen as improvised tank machinegunners. The advance continued, but in the next hour gained only a fewhundred yards. About 1700 or 1730, a liaison plane reappeared and droppeda message. It was from Colonel Michaelis and read, "Return. Road cutbehind you all the way. Lead with tanks if possible. Will give you artillerysupport when within range." [27]

That morning about 1700, Colonel Michaelis at Chindong-ni received wordfrom Colonel Moore that enemy troops had stopped his part of the reconnaissance just beyond its line of departure. Moore reported that he wouldhave all he could do to hold his defensive positions. Late in the morningand in the early afternoon, Michaelis received reports that the enemy hadcut the road between Check and the rest of the regiment, and that E Companyin its advance blocking position was heavily engaged. It was apparent,therefore, that strong enemy forces had moved toward Masan. He thereupon,sometime after 1600, dispatched to Colonel Check the message by liaisonplane to return with the 1st Battalion. [28]

Upon receiving Colonel Michaelis' message, Colonel Check immediatelyset about disengaging the battalion and started back. The two damaged tanksgave trouble and had to be towed by the other tanks to start them. Checkput them in the lead. The two undamaged tanks brought up the rear, behindthe mortar and artillery vehicles. The infantry, moving along the sidesof the ridges parallel to the road, engaged in a fire fight as the withdrawalstarted. Just before dark, and still west of the Much'on-ni road fork,Check decided he would have to mount his infantry on tanks and vehiclesand make a run for it. Thirty to thirty-five men crowded onto the decksof each of the four tanks. The mortar and artillery trucks likewise wereloaded to capacity, but every man found a place to ride.

The tank-led column went back the way it had come, almost constantlyengaged with the enemy along the road. Several times the lead tanks stoppedand infantry riding the decks jumped off to rush enemy machine gun positions.Until dark, the withdrawing battalion had air cover and, when it came withinrange, the 8th Field Artillery Battalion and a battery of 155-mm. howitzersfired shells on either side of the road, shortening the ranges as Check'sbattalion neared Chindong-ni. Exhausted, the 1st Battalion reached Chindong-niat midnight. It had suffered about thirty casualties during the day. ColonelCheck's leadership on this occasion won for him the Distinguished ServiceCross. [29]

During the day, an estimated enemy battalion had come in behind Check'scolumn and attacked E Company, which held the line of departure at Pongam-ni.A relief force sent from the 2d Battalion helped E Company fight its wayback to the battalion's main defensive lines at Kogan-ni, three miles eastward.Still another enemy force ambushed a platoon from A Company, 65th EngineerCombat Battalion, south of Chindong-ni on the Kosong-Sach'on road, withresulting heavy personnel losses and destruction of much equipment. Obviously,North Koreans were moving east from Chinju toward Masan on all roads. [30]

The Affair at Chindong-ni

The town of Chindong-ni, where Colonel Michaelis had his command post,lies astride the south coastal road at a point where mountain spurs from the north come down to meet the sea. High finger ridges end at the northernedge of the town, one on either side of the dirt road from Chindong-nivia Haman and Komam-ni to the Nam River. The ridge on the east side ofthis north-south road terminates in a high, steep bluff at the northeastedge of Chindong-ni. The 27th Infantry regimental command post was in aschoolhouse under the brow of this bluff. In the school courtyard a batteryof 155-mm. howitzers (A Battery, 11th Field Artillery Battalion) had emplaced.Close by was the 8th Field Artillery Battalion. Colonel Check's tired 1stBattalion and the attached four medium tanks had bivouacked there at midnight.

It was a stroke of the greatest good fortune for Colonel Michaelis andthe 27th Infantry regimental headquarters that Colonel Check and his 1stBattalion had returned to Chindong-ni during the night. The next morning,3 August, just after the regimental staff had finished breakfast in theschoolhouse command post, a sudden fusillade of small arms fire hit thebuilding and came through the open windows. [31] This first enemy firecame from the top of the bluff above the schoolhouse. It heralded an enemyattack which came as a complete surprise.

When the attack hit Chindong-ni, some of the security guards apparentlywere asleep. A few outpost troops mistook some of the enemy for South Koreansfrom other nearby outpost positions. [32] Several Americans came runningshoeless down the hill to the courtyard. Colonel Michaelis and his staffofficers pulled men from under jeeps and trucks and forced them into position.One soldier went berserk and started raking his own companions with machinegun fire. [33] An officer, by a well-placed shot, wounded him and stoppedhis murderous fire. Michaelis and Check with other officers and noncommissionedofficers gradually brought order out of the chaos.

Capt. Logan E. Weston, A Company commander, led an attack against theenemy positions on the hill overlooking the command post. He assaultedtwo enemy machine guns on the crest and eliminated their crews by accurateM1 rifle fire. Enemy fire wounded Weston in the thigh during this action,but after receiving first aid treatment he returned to the fight and subsequentlywas wounded twice more. Despite three wounds he refused to be evacuated.Ten days earlier he had likewise distinguished himself in leadership andin combat near Poun. [34]

Soon the 1st Battalion had possession of the high ground near the commandpost. Its mortars and recoilless rifles now joined in the fight. Beforelong the 105-mm. howitzers were firing white phosphorus shells on concentrationsof enemy troops reported from the newly won infantry positions. [35]

At the time they launched their attack, the North Koreans undoubtedlyknew that artillery was at Chindong-ni, because small groups had broughtit under small arms fire during the afternoon of August. But infantry werenot there then, and apparently the enemy did not expect to find any therethe next morning. If the North Koreans surprised he 27th's command postwith their attack, they in turn were surprised by the presence of ColonelCheck's battalion. Once engaged in the fight, and the initial attack failing,the local North Korean commander sent at least a second battalion to Chindong-nito reinforce the one already there and tried to salvage the situation.

Lt. Col. Augustus T. Terry, Jr., commanding officer of the 8th FieldArtillery Battalion, discovered the reinforcing battalion approaching intrucks about one thousand yards away on the Haman road from the north.The trucks stopped and the enemy battalion began dismounting. [36] ColonelTerry's artillery adjusted time fire on it. After the artillery shellsbegan falling on them, the enemy soldiers dispersed rapidly into the hillsand the threatened enemy counterattack did not materialize.

By 1300 the North Koreans had withdrawn from the immediate vicinityof Chindong-ni. American patrols counted 400 enemy dead, a large numberof them in the area where the 8th Field Artillery Battalion had taken thedetrucking enemy soldiers under fire. The defenders of Chindong-ni estimatedthey had killed and wounded 600 enemy soldiers. American casualties atChindong-ni on 3 August were 13 killed and nearly 40 wounded in the 1stBattalion, with a total of 60 casualties for all units. [37]

Interrogation of prisoners later disclosed that two battalions of the14th Regiment, N.K. 6th Division, made theattack on Chindong-ni. One battalion, with the mission of establishinga roadblock at the town, made the initial early morning attack. The othertwo battalions of the same regiment detoured farther to the east, withthe mission of establishing roadblocks closer to Masan. One of them turnedback to Chindong-ni and was dispersed by artillery fire as it was detrucking.The enemy base of operations was on Sobuk-san, north of Chindong-ni. Duringthis engagement, the enemy used commercial telephone lines. Signal officers,tapping them through the 27th Infantry regimental switchboard, monitoredthe enemy conversations. That night (3 August), an operations officer anda translator heard the commanding general of the N.K. 6th Divisionreprimand the commander of the 14th Regiment for losing somany men. [38]

While the prime objective of the 14th Regiment had beento cut the Masan road, another regiment, the 15th, apparently hadthe mission of capturing Masan or the high ground around it. [39]

When the attack on Chindong-ni failed, the 15th Regimentwithheld the attack on Masan but did infiltrate the high ground southwestof the town.

The enemy 6th Division, which had driven so rapidly eastwardfrom Hadong, where it first encountered American troops on 27 July, hadby now, in the course of a week, suffered heavy casualties which reducedit to about half strength. [40] After the battles of the Chungam-ni Notchand Chindong-ni, both sides regrouped and made ready for a new test ofstrength on the approaches to Masan.

The movement around the left flank of Eighth Army in late July had beenthe most brilliantly conceived and executed of the North Korean tacticaloperations south of the Han River. It had held within it the possibilitiesof victory-of driving U.N. forces from the peninsula. It had compelledEighth Army to reinforce its units in the southwest at the expense of thecentral front, and to redeploy the U.N. forces along a shorter line behindthe Naktong River, in what came to be called the Pusan Perimeter.

In early August, General Walker received what he regarded as conclusiveintelligence that the enemy plan had been to supply the North Korean envelopingforce in southwestern Korea by water from the port of Kunsan and otherports southward to and including Yosu. Walker said that had the enemy forcedriven straight and hard for Pusan instead of occupying all the ports insouthwestern Korea, he would not have had time to interpose the strengthto stop it. [41]

Never afterward were conditions as critical for the Eighth Army as inthe closing days of July and the first days of August 1950. Never againdid the North Koreans come as close to victory as when their victorious6th and 4th Divisions passed eastward through Chinjuand Koch'ang. Costly, bloody battles still remained, but from a U.N. strategicpoint of view, the most critical phase had passed. Heavy U.N. reinforcementswere then arriving, or on the point of arriving, in Korea.


[1] EUSAK WD, G-3 Stf Sec Rpt, 31 Jul 50; Ltr, Brig Gen John H. Michaelis to author, 24 Jan 53.

[2] Interv, author with Church, 25 Sep 52; Ltr, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan 53; 24th Div WD, 31 Jul 50.

[3] Inserts, author with Moore, 20 Aug 52, and Church, 25 Sep 52; Ltr, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan 53.

[4] Ltr, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan 53. In discussing this matter with the author, General Church and Colonel Moore had somewhat different recollections from those of Michaelis regarding the orders General Church gave. They recalled the orders as being that the 19th Infantry was to defend the northern road at the pass west of Chungam-ni, and that Michaelis' 27th Infantry was to move through Masan to a defensive position on the southern road near Chindong-ni. The author has concluded that the sequence of events and troop movements that followed the meeting support Michaelis' version.

[5] Ltr, Cutler to author, 9 Mar 53. Michaelis says that at the Notch about 0730 he received a message from an officer courier indicating the 19th Infantry would not hold its blocking position in front of him. Comments with Ltr, Michaelis to author, 29 Sep 53.

[6] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53.

[7] Ltr, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan 53, and Comments with ltr, 29 Sep 53; Interv, author with Maj Jack J. Kron, 1 Aug 51. Kron was formerly Executive Officer, 13th Field Artillery Battalion, and heard Michaelis' end of the conversation at his command post. He confirms the Michaelis version. Colonel Moore has no recollection of this conversation.

[8] Michaelis says he talked with Moore about 0800, but that hour seems too early. It must have been shortly before noon. Colonel Check, Colonel Murch, and Maj. Frank V. Roquemore (regimental headquarters staff) agree that Michaelis gave the order to turn around about noon. Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; Interv, author with Roquemore, 6 Feb 53; Ltr and review comments, Murch to author, 2 Jan 58.

[9] Ltr, Landrum to author, 21 Mar 53; Ltrs, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan and 29 Sep 53; Interv, author with Roquemore, 6 Feb 53. Roquemore was responsible for preparing the 27th Infantry War Diary.

[10] Intervs, author with Church, 25 Sep 52, Check, 6 Feb 53, and Moore, 20 Aug 52; Ltrs, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan and 29 Sep 53; Ltr, Murch to author, 7 Apr 54.

[11] 2d Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, 1 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, Activities Rpt, Aug 50; 24th Div WD, 1 Aug 50; Brig. Gen. John H. Michaelis with Bill Davidson, "This We Learned in Korea," Collier's, August 18, 1950. p. 39.

[12] Ltr, Cutler to author, 9 Mar 53.

[13] Ltr, Rhea to author, 9 Apr 53.

[14] Ltr, Cutler to author, 9 Mar 53.

[15] EUSAK WD, G-1 Sec, Unit Hist Rpt, 13 Jul 50, p. 5; 8072d Med Tk Bn WD, 1-7 Aug 50 (in 25th Div WD); GHQ UNC, G-3 Opn Rpts 37, 31 Jul 50, and 38, 1 Aug 50.

[16] Ltr, Wilson to author, 25 Mar 53; Interv, author with Moore, 20 Aug 52.

[17] On 1 August the 19th Infantry strength was 1,273; the 1st Bn, 28th Inf, was 745; and the 3d Bn, 28th Inf, was 317. See 24th Div WD, 31 Jul 50; 19th Inf WD, 31 Jul 50; 19th Inf Unit Rpt 23, 1 Aug 50.

[18] Ltr, Wilson to author, 25 Mar 53; Ltr, Rhea to author, 9 Apr 53; Ltr, Cutler to author, 3 Jul 53. Colonel Rhea states he did not know of the projected reconnaissance attack through his position by the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, until tanks passed through the Notch. A written order had been distributed for this attack, but by some inadvertence, Colonel Rhea did not know of it.

[19] Ltrs to author, Wilson, 25 Mar 53, Rhea, 9 Apr 53, and Cutler, 3 Jul 53; Ltr, Rhea to author, 29 Apr 53; Holliday, Notes for author, 31 Mar 53; 24h Div GO 114, 31 Aug 50.

[20] Ltr, Rhea to author, 29 Apr 53; Interv, author with Moore, 20 Aug 52; Notes, Moore for author, Jul 53; 24th Div GO 114, 31 Aug 50.

[21] Ltrs, Rhea to author, 9 and 29 Apr 53; Ltr, Wilson to author, 25 Mar 53; Ltrs, Cutler to author, 9 Mar and 3 Jul 53.

[22] Interv, author with Moore, 17 Feb 53; Ltr, Cutler to author, 9 Mar 53; Ltr, Wilson to author, 25 Mar 53; Holliday, Notes for author, 31 Mar 53.

[23] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; 27th Inf WD, 2 Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, Aug 50.

[24] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; Ltr, Col Gilbert J. Check to Lt Col Carl D. McFerren, 26 Jun 53, in OCMH files.

[25] 8072d Med Tk Bn WD, 2 Aug 50.

[26] Ibid.; Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53. The statement by Norrell in the report that this enemy fire came from three captured U.S. 105-mm. howitzers is incorrect.

[27] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; 8072d Med Tk Bn WD, 1-7 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, 2 Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, Aug 50; 24th Div WD, 2 Aug 50. The records erroneously have this final action taking place at Much'on-ni.

[28] Ltr, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan and 29 Sep 53.

[29] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; Ltrs, Michaelis to author, 24 Jan and 29 Sep 53; 27th Inf WD. 2 Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, Aug 50; EUSAK WD. GO 68, 15 Sep 50.

[30] 27th Inf WD, Hist Rpt, Aug 50; 2d Bn, 27th Inf, Summ of Activities, Aug 50; Ltr with comments, Murch to author, 7 Apr 54.

[31] 27th Inf Activities Rpt, S-3 Sec, Aug 50; Higgins, War in Korea, pp. 123-30; Harold Martin, "The Colonel Saved the Day," The Saturday Evening Post, September 9, 1950, pp. 32-33; Michaelis with Davidson, "This We Learned in Korea," op. cit. Both Higgins and Martin were present. Their accounts of the Chindong-ni action are somewhat colored.

[32] Higgins, War In Korea, p. 124; Martin "The Colonel Saved the Day," op. cit., p. 190.

[33] Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53.

[34] General Order 68, 15 September 1950, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Weston. EUSAK WD. See also Higgins, War in Korea.

[35] 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, 23 Jul-3 Aug 50.

[36] 8th FA Bn WD, Aug 50, entry for 3 Aug and Summ.

[37] Ibid., 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, 23 Jul-3 Aug 50; 27th Inf S-3 Activities Rpt, Aug 50.

[38] 27th Inf S-3 Activities Rpt, Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Opn Rpt, 4-30 Aug 50; 25th Div WD, 2-3 Aug 50; Michaelis with Davidson, "This We Learned in Korea," op. cit.

[39] 8th FA Bn WD, Aug 50.

[40] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 6th Div), pp. 37-38.

[41] Memo, Maj Gen Doyle O. Hickey (Dep CofS, FEC) to CofS, FEC, 7 Aug 50, sub: Report of Visit to Korea.

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